The Write Practice

The Online Writing Workbook

Why Writers Love Red Herrings: A Brief Guide

Red Herring

Red herrings are staples of the mystery and suspense genres, but they also can pop up in myriad other works and genres. But what is a red herring? Find out…

3 Lessons Gone Girl Teaches Writers About Suspense

3 lessons gone girl teaches writers about suspense

I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl way back in January after hearing that A. it was amazing, and B. it would be getting a theatrical release in October 2014. I loved the book, and as soon as I started seeing trailers for the movie, I got it into my head that I MUST SEE THIS FILM. The moody teaser, the dark score accompanying the scenes of a marriage unraveling, the mystery of whose story is the truth: the whole thing dragged me in. I saw the movie on Sunday, and it definitely did not disappoint, at least as far as I’m concerned. There’s a lot of debate around the plot, which I won’t go into here because pretty much anything I say would be a huge spoiler.

Word Crimes According to Weird Al

Word Crimes by Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al came out with a new album fairly recently, and my boyfriend sent me a link to his video for “Word Crimes” because, let’s face it, it’s me we’re talking about. For reference, in case any of you aren’t as aware of Weird Al’s affinity for grammar, he’s a self-described grammar nazi, and this song is a clear indication of that fact.

Euphemism: Definition and Examples for Writers

Euphamism Definition

I’m in the home stretch of the second book of Lev Grossman’s Magicians series. Basic premise: imagine that you’re a huge fan of the Narnia series, and also a magician at magic college. And then you find out that Narnia is real, and a lot darker than the books led you to believe. That’s the most simplistic way of putting it, but you should probably read the series yourself. But the series is told from the point of view of a high school/college-aged boy named Quentin. Clearly, since there is a young adult male protagonist, there are euphemisms sprinkled liberally through the books.

Isocolon: Definition and Examples for Writers

The saying, "Veni, Vidi, Vici; I came, I saw, I Conquered," is one of the most famous isocolons.

I remember one of my teachers at one point in my schooling mentioning that there is a balance between the good days and the bad days you’ll get. The exact phrasing used to express this idea was “Some days you get the elevator, some days you get the shaft.” Morbid, perhaps, but it’s a saying that has stuck with me since then. I really like similarly structured euphemisms and turns of phrase, and I just learned the name for them: isocolon.

Finagle’s Law: A Writer’s Guide

Finagle's Law

Sometimes you have a bad day. Sometimes that bad day stretches into a bad week, or a bad month, if you’re really struggling. Usually, that’s not fun for any parties involved. However, if you’re an external observer, and the action is taking place in a book or movie, disaster can be the whole reason you’re paying any attention. If disaster is inevitable, it’s because of a concept called Finagle’s Law.

What Stieg Larsson Got Wrong, A Writer Talks

Steig Larsson author of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

A couple of years ago, I read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy. You know, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. Well, truthfully, I didn’t exactly read the trilogy. I read the first two books and ditched the third after about fifty pages. In this post, let’s talk about what that third book got so wrong.

Negative Capability: Definition and Examples

negative capability

I have always had a thirst for knowledge and understanding. I read encyclopedias for fun in the 4th grade, and I dominate at trivia to this day. This doesn’t always work well in the writing world. Have you ever seen Lost? I’m about halfway through season three. When I first started watching the show, a friend of mine told me to expect to have a lot of my questions to be unanswered. That advice has made the viewing experience much more enjoyable because I’m not spending half of the episode trying to figure out and reason through what’s going on.

John Keats understood this artistic choice to live in the tension of mystery, and in a letter to his brothers, he gave it a name: negative capability.

Euphony and Cacophony: A Writer’s Guide

I love words. A lot of us get into writing because we love words. We love words strung together in sentences; we love that those sentences blend to form an amazing story that we immerse ourselves in. Sometimes it’s just the sound of the word that enraptures us, or maybe it’s two words put together that, when combined, are the epitome of sonic euphoria. When that happens, we experience euphony.

Snark

snark

I have a soft spot for sarcasm. This is probably no surprise to anyone who has been following the Write Practice since the early days, but I often say that the primary love language of my family is sarcasm. It’s nothing too cutting; we understand where the line between sarcastic and downright hurtful is. This is probably why I love the word “snark” as much as I do. Fun fact: snark is a portmanteau of “snide remark”, which is one hundred percent the best definition of snark.